Carrington, Hereward (Hubert Lavington)
Psychical investigator and author of many popular books on
psychic subjects. Carrington was born October 17, 1880, in St.
Heliers, Jersey, Channel Islands, Britain. He was educated in
London and Cranbrook, and immigrated to the United States
in 1899. His Ph.D. was obtained later at William Penn College,
in Iowa. His interest was in psychical research and he followed
an anti-Spiritualist line until the book Essays in Psychical Research
by ‘‘Miss X’’ (Ada Goodrich Freer) shook his skepticism.
In 1900, at age 19, he joined the American branch of the Society
for Psychical Research and devoted the rest of his life to
such studies. He became known for his intellect and knowledge
and was a delegate to the First International Psychical Congress
Carleson, Rolf Alfred Douglas Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
in Copenhagen in 1921 and to subsequent congresses in Warsaw
(1923), Paris (1927), Athens (1930), and Oslo (1935).
After Richard Hodgson (1855–1905) died and the American
branch of the Society for Psychical Research was reestablished
as the American Society for Psychical Research under
James H. Hyslop’s leadership, Carrington became Hyslop’s assistant
and worked in that capacity until July 1908. Then, on
behalf of the English Society for Psychical Research, and in
company with Everard Feilding and W. W. Baggally, he went
to Naples to investigate the phenomena of the medium Eusapia
Palladino. His experiences, as described in Eusapia Palladino
and Her Phenomena, moved him even further into the
camp of believers. Summarizing his new stance, he stated,
‘‘My own sittings convinced me finally and conclusively that
genuine phenomena do occur, and, that being the case, the
question of their interpretation naturally looms before me. I
think that not only is the Spiritualistic hypothesis justified as a
working theory, but it is, in fact, the only one capable of rationally
explaining the facts.’’
This view was shaken after Palladino, on his invitation, visited
America in 1909 and was exposed as a fraud on two occasions.
Carrington stuck by his earlier opinions and did not publish
the record of the sittings, which remained in his possession
until 1954. In his Personal Experiences in Spiritualism (1918), he
speculated that the phenomena were specifically of biological
In 1921, with an interested group behind him, Carrington
founded the American Psychical Institute and Laboratory,
which was in active operation for about two years.
In 1924 he sat on a committee of the Scientific American investigating
the phenomena of Spiritualism. He attended many
sittings with Mina Crandon (‘‘Margery’’) in Boston and initially
considered her mediumship genuine. Then in 1932, following
some revelations of probable fraud, his faith was again shaken.
He wrote in the Bulletin of the Boston Society for Psychic Research,
‘‘Certainly this throws a cloud over the whole Margery
case.’’ Carrington also found fraud in his investigation of William
Carrington believed in the strong pull of the positive evidence
for human survival, yet as he grew older, he became far
less committed to it. Summarizing his own researches in The
Story of Psychic Science (1930), he states
‘‘I may say that I have never, in all that time, witnessed any
phenomena which have appeared to me undoubtedly spiritistic
in character—though I have, of course, seen many unquestionably
supernormal phenomena. At the same time, I realize very
fully that other very competent investigators have seen and reported
manifestations far more striking than any it has been my
good fortune to witness and these findings have duly impressed
me. I, therefore, maintain a perfectly open mind upon
this question, while continuing my investigations and shall
probably continue in this state of mental equilibrium until
some striking and convincing phenomena turn the scales in
one direction or in the other.’’
Those striking and convincing phenomena came Carrington’s
way with the visit of Eileen Garrett at the American Psychical
Institute three years later. Having subjected her to psychoanalytic
‘‘association tests,’’ combined with an electrical
recording apparatus to decide whether the ‘‘communicators’’
were personalities distinct from the medium, he concluded, ‘‘I
can now say that our experiments seem to have shown the existence
of mental entities independent of the control of the medium,
and separate and apart from the conscious or subconcious
mind of the medium.’’
Throughout his active life Carrington wrote numerous
books, some notable for their sharp perceptions and insightful
observations, and others filled with incredible and unfounded
opinions. In his later years he moved on to investigate astral
projection and wrote a series of classic books with Sylvan J.
Muldoon. He died December 26, 1958, in Los Angeles.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Carrington, Hereward. The Case for Psychic Survival. New
York Citadel Press, 1957.
———. Loaves and Fishes. New York Charles Scribner’s
Sons, 1935.
———. Modern Psychic Phenomena. New York Dodd, Mead,
———. The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism. New York
Herbert B. Turner, 1907.
———. The Problems of Psychic Research. New York Dodd,
Mead, 1921.
———. The Story of Psychic Science. London Rider, 1930. Reprint,
New York Ives Washburn, 1931.
———. Your Psychic Powers, and How to Develop Them. New
York A. L. Burt, 1920.
Carrington, Hereward, and Sylvan J. Muldoon. The Phenomena
of Astral Projection. London Rider, 1951.
———. The Projection of the Astral Body. 1929. Reprint, New
York Samuel Weiser, 1970.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.

Previous articleCritomancy
Next articleChambers, Robert (1802–1871)